April 26, 1945
United States Department of State Bulletin.
FELLOW DELEGATES TO THE UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION:
Three years ago the forces of tyranny and aggression seemed on the very point of conquering the world. Today, on every front, they are face to face with defeat-utter and completed defeat.
It has taken years of toil and sacrifice to bring us to this moment. But the doom of the aggressor nations was sealed long ago. It was sealed in Washington on January first, 1942, when the United Nations Declaration was signed.
Our enemies could conquer only by keeping us divided. Instead we confronted them with a free and voluntary association of nations united in purpose and without equal in human and material resources. This unity neither force nor subterfuge has broken. Against the common will and the common strength of the United Nations, our enemies have hurled their propaganda and their armed might in vain.
For centuries to come, men will point to the United Nations as history's most convincing proof of what miracles can be accomplished by nations joined together in a righteous cause. It is a unity achieved in spite of differences of language and custom, of cultural tradition, and of economic structure. It is a unity which proves that no differences of race, color, creed, history, or geography can divide peoples united in a higher community of interest and purpose.
Our first objective has been the defeat of our enemies. But from the beginning the United Nations have pursued another objective-one which is equally necessary to each one of us. It is the objective which gives ultimate meaning to all the sacrifice and suffering of these tragic years. We are united not only for survival, not only for military victory. We are united above all in the necessity to assure a just and an enduring peace in which the peoples of the world can work together to achieve at last freedom from fear and from want.
We have made a better beginning toward the fulfillment of this purpose than nations have ever made before.
For this purpose the responsible leaders of our nations and their representatives have met in Moscow and in Teheran, in Cairo, in Quebec, at Dumbarton Oaks, and in the Crimea.
Because of our common understanding that economic security goes hand in hand with security from war, United Nations conferences were held in. Atlantic City, Hot Springs, and Bretton Woods on cooperative measures for relief, to meet common problems in food and agriculture and to prepare the financial basis for economic reconstruction and an expanding world economy in the postwar world.
At Mexico City the Inter-American Conference on Problems of War and Peace strengthened the ties between the republics of the Western Hemisphere and prepared the way for a close integration of the inter-American system with the world Organization.
Yes, the United Nations have long been at work together on many preparations required in building the structure of lasting peace. Here at San Francisco we have come to the decisive point in these preparations. The purpose of this Conference is to prepare the Charter of an international Organization to maintain peace with justice in a free world of free men.
I believe that it was a wise, indeed a necessary, decision to limit the work of this Conference to that great task. It was a wise decision because writing the constitution of a world Organization to maintain peace in the future is a task wholly separate from the punishment of the international gangsters who started this war.
It was a necessary decision because establishment of the world Organization must be kept above and apart from the peace settlements if the Organization is to be able to deal freely and justly with future threats to the peace that may arise from any cause, including these settlements.
Preparation of the Charter of the world Organization should not, therefore, be entangled with the many and complex political and economic issues involved in the defeat of Germany and Japan. And the imminent collapse of organized German resistance makes it all the more important that the world Organization be established at the earliest possible moment.
To deal with these other issues, there will have to be many other conferences, and many other decisions, both national and international. We have no time to lose.
Success at this Conference will not of itself assure enduring peace. The whole structure will take years to build. But without agreement on a Charter of the world Organization, the structure of peace cannot be built at all.
A house cannot be built without a plan or without a foundation. Here at San Francisco the United Nations must draw the plan and lay the foundation.
Upon this foundation and in accordance with this plan the framework of the structure will be erected when the United Nations have ratified the Charter by their respective constitutional processes and brought the world Organization into being. It is only around this framework that we can complete the structure of peace with all the other agreements on political, economic, and social problems which we must reach together.
At this Conference we have, therefore, undertaken a responsibility on which all else depends. We have undertaken to draw up the Charter of an international Organization strong enough to prevent war and flexible enough to allow for peaceful development and change.
The outlines of such a Charter are contained in the Proposals formulated at Dumbarton Oaks last fall by the representatives of the Republic of China, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.
These Proposals were formulated after years of preliminary study. They represent in their essentials the highest common denominator of thought among the four sponsoring nations. They are being presented to this Conference as affording the basis of the Charter of an international Organization.
The Proposals were submitted months ago to the most searching examination by the Governments and peoples of all the United Nations. Since then many constructive suggestions have been made toward their improvement. Some of these suggestions-and others which may emerge from our discussions here-will undoubtedly be reflected in the final draft of the Charter. And the Charter itself should be open to whatever later amendment experience may dictate as wise.
We must always bear in mind, however, that there are at least two conditions essential to the establishment of a world organization which can successfully maintain peace.
One of these conditions is that those peace-loving nations which have the military and industrial strength required to prevent or suppress aggression must agree and act together against aggression. If they do not agree and act together, aggression cannot be prevented or suppressed without a major war. This fact has certainly been spelled out by our experience in this war.
That is why the first step toward establishment of the world Organization was to prepare proposals on which the nations sponsoring this Conference could agree. That is why, in the structure and powers of the Security Council of the world Organization proposed in the Dumbarton Oaks plan, provision was made for this essential agreement and unity of action by the major nations. Without this, we cannot hope to build a world Organization which will provide security to all nations, large and small. Without this we cannot hope to develop enduring institutions in which all free nations may participate on a basis of sovereign equality and in which justice and respect for law will apply to the powerful as well as to the weak.
The second essential condition of success in our endeavor is the voluntary cooperation of all peaceful nations, large and small, acting with full respect for the equal sovereignty of each, to promote justice among nations, to foster respect for basic human rights, and to solve those common problems upon which the security and the economic and social advancement of their peoples so largely depend. There can be no end to the tyranny of fear and-want unless the proposed world Organization commands the allegiance of both the mind and the conscience of mankind.
The International Court, the Assembly, and the Economic and Social Council and its related agencies are the institutions proposed at Dumbarton Oaks which would have the major responsibility in these fields. They are of the utmost importance. Wide-spread economic insecurity and poverty, ignorance and oppression, breed conflict and give aggressors their chance. Measures for security against aggression, no matter how effectively contrived, will not alone provide the assurance of lasting peace. We have also to work effectively in close cooperation together toward rising standards of living and greater freedom and opportunity for all peoples, of every race and creed and color.
In the preparations for this Conference we have sought from the beginning to build with vision and with justice, but to build always upon the realities and upon hard-won experience.
To build upon a millennial idealism, however fine in theory, would be to build upon quicksand. To build only on the collaboration and interests of the major nations would be to deny the community of interests of all nations.
We have sought instead to assure that the strength of the major nations will be used both justly and effectively for the common welfare-under the law of a world charter in which all peaceful nations are joined together.
We began by seeking common understanding among the sponsoring nations on basic objectives and on the essential machinery for action. These are the nations which have united their strength against the aggressors so successfully in this war. We proceed now by seeking agreement among all the nations, large and small, which have been united against the common enemy.
This is a conference of United Nations, the nations that loved peace and freedom enough to fight for them. The international Organization we seek to build is one that is based upon this inescapable fact of our time-that peace and security will be the right of those nations which are willing to share in the responsibility for keeping them. Tyranny and barbarism have never recognized neutrality. They never will. We do not intend to build a world organization that will overlook this cardinal fact. We do propose that, after it is established, the Organization be open to membership of all other nations which have demonstrated their willingness and ability to fulfill their obligations under the Charter.
I have reviewed briefly the preparations for this Conference and our thinking on some of the major problems that we must meet here.
We cannot expect at this Conference to produce a charter which will answer all the questions or resolve all the problems. No charter, no constitution, no basic document was ever drafted that was not open to improvement.
We Americans have a convincing proof of that in our own history. Our Constitution, under which this Republic has grown and prospered for a hundred and fifty years, was by no means satisfactory to all the citizens when it issued from the Constitutional Convention of Philadelphia in 1787-or even satisfactory to all the delegates to that Convention. It lacked many provisions which numerous Americans of that day believed to be essential. Yet it was adopted by the requisite number of States in 1789. Only four years after the Constitution was written the first ten amendments went into effect, and eleven other amendments have been made since then.
What was true of the Thirteen States, which joined to form the United States, is true also of the nations which have met in this Conference to consider the proposed organization of the world for security and peace. Let us construct the Charter of the world Organization as soundly as we can. But let us not sacrifice approval to perfection.
Let us act now in the sure knowledge that our work can be improved upon with time but that, if we fail to act, we are likely to lose altogether the opportunity which has been given us to prevent another world war.
Fellow Delegates, as we enter upon our great task, we cannot forget the millions of men of our armed forces who have given their lives to this cause, nor the other millions of men, women, and children who have suffered the cruel agonies of starvation, torture, and death. We cannot forget the untold destruction that has been wrought. Nor can we forget how close our whole civilization has come to utter ruin.
It is our supreme responsibility, at this Conference and afterwards, to see to it that this calamity never again falls upon the world.
Vision we must have to see clearly that without peace and security for all nations there will be no peace and security for any one of us.
Courage we must have to carry us through trying delays and temporary misunderstandings and lesser differences to the fulfillment of our common purpose.
Faith we must have in the ability of mankind to make peace with the same resolute devotion that the United Nations' peoples have given to fighting this war.
That vision, that courage, that faith inspired the great American leader whose life was given to the cause for which we have here met-Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
It is only with such vision, courage, and faith-expressed in a thousand different ways-that the United Nations have been able to travel so far along the hard road to final victory. It is only with this vision, courage, and faith that we shall make peace secure for ourselves-and for succeeding generations.